October 21st, 2013
10:19 AM ET
9 years ago

Christie drops challenge to same-sex marriages

Updated 10/21/2013 at 3:54 p.m. ET

(CNN) - New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie is dropping a legal challenge to a court ruling abolishing the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

"Although the Governor strongly disagrees with the Court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the Court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law," Christie's office said Monday morning in a statement.

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"The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court."

Friday, the New Jersey Supreme Court declined to temporarily block a lower court ruling knocking down the state's same-sex marriage ban. The state's highest court had been scheduled to hear further arguments in January. With that case dropped, same-sex weddings in New Jersey became legal starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Christie has long said he opposes weddings for gay and lesbian couples. In his first reelection debate earlier this month, he called for a state referendum to decide the issue, although the governor said he would accept legalized same-sex marriages were a majority of Garden State voters to approve it.

In the second debate against state Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democratic challenger, Christie said that if his children came out as gay, he would still love them but his views on same-sex marriage would remain unchanged.

In a Quinnipiac poll earlier this month, New Jerseyans said they preferred Christie drop the challenge by a nearly two-to-one margin. A slight plurality of Republican voters said Christie should continue to pursue the challenge, 49% to 42%.

Christie’s decision to drop the legal challenge comes two weeks before he will face Buono at the ballots. Favored to win reelection by double digit margins in public opinion polls, Christie has worked hard to present himself as a political moderate in a blue-state race widely considered to be a test-run for a possible 2016 presidential bid.

Buono released a statement describing Christie's views as "bigoted. "

"Despite Governor Christie's efforts to block the rights of gays and lesbians at every turn, it took a determined effort by brave individuals and a unanimous decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court to force the Governor to drop his appeal," she said. "I am thrilled the court ended his ability to enforce his bigoted views that are contrary to the values of our state."

The conservative-values organization Family Research Council released a statement Monday expressing "disappointment" with Christie's decision not to pursue the case.

"We are glad that Gov. Christie vetoed the legislature's attempt to redefine marriage, and that he was initially willing to defend the state's marriage law in court," Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg said in the statement.

"However, conservatives are looking for leaders who will sustain their commitment to unchanging principles. Combined with his signing of a radical bill to outlaw even voluntary sexual orientation change efforts with minors, today's action has given conservatives serious pause about Gov. Christie's reliability."

Gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey started getting married 12:01 a.m. Monday, the moment the lower court's ruling went into effect.

The decision was based in large part on the summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that prohibited discrimination against same-sex couples. In her decision, the New Jersey judge argued that the state's continuing allowance only of civil unions for gay and lesbian couples was discriminatory.

Among those granting the early-morning marriages was Democratic Senator-elect Cory Booker, the Newark, New Jersey mayor who overwhelmingly won his bid last week to fill out the remainder of the term of the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in June.

New Jersey's Assembly Speaker, Democrat Sheila Oliver, who had urged Christie to drop his fight, praised the governor's decision in a statement Monday.

"This will long be remembered as a great day for equality in New Jersey," Oliver said.

Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Facts

    The moral downgrade in this country is caused by continuing oppression of groups in this country that are fighting for their rights. Gay people are still bashed on a daily basis because of the way they are represented as evil doers instead of just your average next door neighbor. Black people are still oppressed in the employment sector for a reason that I still can't understand. I know MANY black folks that are standup individuals, that treat everybody the same and take care of themselves but still can't find work. Non-Christians are still oppressed in this country due to the fear of a different religion becoming more popular than Christianity. Last time I checked, government and religion are not allowed to be intertwined which also leads me to the point that allowing two people of the different sex to marry under the law is hypocritical if you don't allow two people of the same sex to marry under the same law. Since we do not mix church and state, it shouldn't make a difference to anybody. Now, if getting married under our governing laws is dictated by the christian church, then we have a problem now don't we?

    October 21, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. Buffalo Yetti

    Congrats NJ let the weddings begin. and to data driven: it's all about equal rights and no where in the country can three people get married. So lets be equal not special.

    October 21, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. becca

    This nation keeps getting sicker and more depraved every day. God help us

    October 21, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  4. Larry the Lurkster

    In this day and age what two people who are in love with each other is there business and there's alone. Don't put any dogmatic cnfusion into the equation. People need to remember our personal freedoms that we have in this country. You have a right to your opinion to vilify a loving couple for the sake of old school bible thumping is a regressive movement. Freedom of sppech, press, religion and the choice to love whomever we want is part of what makes this country the best in the world. Don't like it? Move to the island of haters.

    October 21, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Jackson


    Now we get watch the marriages of men who like men, and look like women, and women who like women, and look like men. Makes perfect sense. Sure, I'll be this is what nature wants. No chance at procreation whatsoever.


    Heterosexual couples in their 60's can't procreate. Should they be denied marriage?

    Heterosexual couples who are infertile can't procreate. Should they be denied marriage?

    Some heterosexual couples do not want children at all. Should they be denied marriage?

    See, you don't think these things through before you open your mouth.

    October 21, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Flagship, NC

    Smart move for Christie to do this.

    October 21, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. adsas

    BrianRunsPhilly wrote: "More Republicans like him and I'd be back in the GOP. Focus on fiscal responsibility and less governmental intrusion into our lives. The gender of two consenting adults getting married is not my concern."

    Oh yeah, he's a real hero of less governmental intrusion. That's why he VETOED the bill that the state assembly was trying to enact to make marriage equality the law and then he tried to have Judge Jacobson's ruled stayed and ONLY after the NJ Supreme Court affirmed Jacobson's ruling and denied that stay, THEN and only THEN did he "decide to drop it." I take it you haven't been following this very well, huh?

    October 21, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. BobJustBob

    Christie doesn't seem to be driven by the need to express hatred or to impose his values on others or to break something out of spite. He's more like the conservative statesmen I knew, and sometimes supported, of yesteryear.

    October 21, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  9. LWJR

    Fascism at work. Juidiciary made this law, not the people. Sodom and Gomorrah liberals in high places.

    October 21, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  10. Dorkus Maximus

    It's always been the role of the court to resolve inconsistencies in the law. The Court isn't substituting its judgement for anything but the flawed judgement of the state in passing a law that doesn't stand up to the Constitution or established federal law.

    October 21, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. Vince

    I don't know what everyone is yelling about. God doesn't make the law of the state. If he's unahppy with the result of the law, he's welcome to make his displeasure known. Until then, others should not be speaking for him.

    October 21, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. livinginva

    becca: My Christian God thinks this is a good thing.

    October 21, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  13. Mark

    Civil rights should never be up for a vote. It's not right. Imagine if it had been up to the people in 1963. The reality is, most people are irrational, selfish and stupid, and that's why we have a republic, and not a democracy.

    October 21, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. M

    So you oppose same-sex marriage? Fine, then don't marry someone of the same sex. Problem solved.

    Someone please explain to me why they feel justified in trying to impose their moral code on others. Is it so hard to be morally opposed to something but, at the same time, respect others' right to live their lives as they choose? These folks aren't doing a thing to harm you, so leave them alone.

    October 21, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  15. Tom

    Rudy, if the people were supposed to make up the laws, we would probably still have Slavery in America. Sorry, but 75% of people care mostly about their personal lives, what the Kardashians are up to and what not. They also tend to believe that everyone should be like them. You cannot have election with majority rule on a large number of issues... Let's have some of the smartest people come up with the laws as it has always been. The constitution is not a result of a big number of public votes either...

    October 21, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  16. Jackson


    Rofl...we live in a country run by Democrats. Deciding issues by letting the people vote is no longer an option.


    So, if a majority of voters in California approved a measure that said Republicans could not hold elected office in the state of California, you would be ok with that?

    October 21, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. Andrew

    @ Chris, marriage does NOT come from religion, it is far older and even exists in many animal species (google monogamous animals, there are many).

    Religion has NO place in politics, period. I am so glad when I read polls indicating the decline of religion and rise of the "nones". The day religion is minimized and seen by all as the backward cult it is will be a the day that we can finally leave racism, sexism, homophobia and all other forms of bigotry behind us.

    October 21, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. Tom

    @Jackson why do you care? It's been proven that people are born Gay, let them have a good life. At least you can't worry about gay couples procreating and making more gays (seems you appear to be against it)

    October 21, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Vote for Barbara Buono

    October 21, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. Doug in NYC

    Funny, I don't remember voting on the right for "straight" couple to marry. When did that vote happen? If it's the standard to vote on everyones rights, I think every single couple who wants to marry must put it up to a vote. I say every first Tuesday of each month the people will vote on a couples right to marry, regardless of gender.

    October 21, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. jimi.

    @becca: The only thing that's sick about this country is the fact that intolerance is alive and well in the 21st century.

    October 21, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. bspurloc

    The Pope says to focus on helping the poor not trivial jealous things like this...
    Never mind Marriage existed before religion...
    2500BC some of the earliest history... History Articles: Marriage in Ancient Mesopotamia and Babylonia

    October 21, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    "The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court."

    If only our President would enforce the ACA as dictated by Congress (that means the entire ACA) rather than pick and choose what parts of the law he wants to uphold...

    October 21, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    Christie doesn't stand on principles. He is not a true conservative.

    While there is no reason to object to all people being treated fairly........that had nothing to do, with Christie's decision.

    October 21, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Mo

    Ok bible thumpers, it comes down to this:

    Hurting people who have done you no harm and intend you no harm IS NOT A MORAL POSITION.

    Preventing people from marrying harms them. It prevents them for providing for their families in the same manner as the rest of the population. This stance you are taking hurts real people. It hurts people who have done no harm to you and they intend you no harm. Their marriage does not effect what you do in any manner. So, I repeat:

    Hurting people who have done you no harm and intend you no harm IS NOT A MORAL POSITION.

    ..no matter what your book says.

    October 21, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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